Serious as a tumor.

10 Mar

Dr. R., my former dermatologist, is a fast-talking Filipino woman whose first name is Ina but I think of her as Imelda. Both women are of equal and extraordinary will. Each could easily talk their way back into a country from which they have been exiled. One had. One should. Dr. R. has a way of railroading a conversation onto her track, leaving those swept up by her cow-catcher merely along for the ride.

After performing a biopsy on my nose, she told me she wouldn’t phone unless it was cancerous. Several days later, on a Friday at 4PM, I picked up a message on my cell phone. “This is Dr. R. Please call me next Wednesday. It’s not serious.”

I wasn’t about to suffer five sleepless nights to straighten this out, so I tracked her down immediately. That took phone calls to three of her offices, where the last secretary heard the blood curdle in my voice and put me through to her post haste.

“Oh, yes, hello. Let me see here. Yes. You have a malignancy.”

Not serious? If I’m not mistaken, I believe that is the most serious word in the English language. I’d maybe rank it just below “foreclosure.” She went on to tell me she needed to see me as soon as possible to continue her spelunking expedition, carving out yet another canyon on the leeward side of my left nostril.

In the meantime, I consulted with several friends in the medical profession and their surrogate, my mother. All suggested I get a plastic surgeon on board. I made inquiries, and apparently, Mrs. Marcos got wind of this. I was in the dermatological doghouse.

I was called into her office as though I had been found rifling through my classmate’s backpacks in the cloakroom of my elementary school. I felt six years old. Six years old with cancer.

I arrived a few days later and sat squirming like an insect under her lamp to be met with the full fury of her rage. “You didn’t have to see other doctors first! I could have explained all of your options to you myself.” I wanted to tell her that that would have been fine, but that I eventually had to return to work some month down the road, a prospect made unlikely given her admirable run of the mouth, but no pause presented itself and she blathered on. “We can cryogenically remove the margins, we can surgically excise more of the derma, or we can apply a topical cream.”

Excuse me. A topical cream? Versus freezing and slicing the shit out of my face. Isn’t this a no-brainer?

“Is the cream effective?” I interrupted, both skeptically and hopefully.

“Oh yes, very much so. It was developed for penile warts.”

I’m rarely at a loss for words even in the presence of an Olympian chatterbox, but this left me speechless. The cream for the cancer on my nose was developed for penile warts. What talented or limber fellow made THAT scientific leap?

I’m applying it religiously, keeping my deaf ear to the side effects. The FDA “black box” is as long as Bleak House. But should you notice my nose getting larger, perhaps there will be a beneficial corollary.

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One Response to “Serious as a tumor.”

  1. Siobhan March 10, 2012 at 11:33 pm #

    As always, hilarious!

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